“You remind me of a great big ice cream!” Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon joked with fans in Birmingham’s Utilita Arena. The last time Duran Duran came to Birmingham was during the Commonwealth Games with an epic, quick-hit of three classics and one new number. The majority of the audience are aged 50 or over - but it’s safe to say they’re devoted.
Duran Duran are a band that many loved to kick against - the Birmingham lads who left the Midlands and toured all over the world wearing the most colourful 80's suits imaginable. Easy to mock, sure, but they are a great band, with great songs.
And those songs were a celebration for the fans, singing along as passionately to their opener, Night Boat , as to the stone-cold classics in what was an expansive, hit-packed celebration of 40 years in music. The band then went straight into The Wild Boys , exuberant as it was decades ago.
Big hits - such as Hungry Like The Wolf - sent fans into raptures before coming bang up to date with Invisible from their latest album Future Past. Producer Mark Ronson has worked on recent albums, including Future Past , which hit No 3 in 2021 and provides the title of this tour. Duran Duran made no attempt to pretend that they’ve had a long and consistent career: 14 of the 20 songs performed were released between 1981 and 1986.
As Nick Rhodes’s still-futuristic-sounding-synths played the opening bars to Save a Prayer , phones lit up the arena. Le Bon was in fine voice throughout, and it’s clear the band love performing – and each other. Le Bon frequently sang face-to-face with bassist John Taylor.
Roger Taylor was hidden away behind a mountain of drums and cymbals while John Taylor stood to Simon’s right and guitarist Dom Brown was on the left. There were two female backing singers.
Birmingham was a theme that Le Bon spoke about all night - at one point referencing a pub catch up with legendary reggae band UB40. Singer Ali Campbell had apparently told Le Bon to “get on his knees” before knighting Le Bon “an honorary Brummie”. “Rise Sir Innit ‘cause you’re from Balsall Heath,” Campbell said to Le Bon.
Highlights of the night include Bond song A View to a Kill and the stompy Is There Something I Should Know? , with fans excited to revel in the New Romantic style of old. Rhodes donned his trademark gothy eyeliner, dramatic black and white suit and silver boots, while Le Bon wore sparkling white - at one point changing into a neon green jacket.
Duran Duran also paid tribute to the 80's in their own way - by covering Calvin Harris' hit Acceptable in the 80s.
Planet Earth was greeted with mass enthusiasm. Early ‘flop’ single Careless Memories was given a monster punky makeover. But it was Ordinary World, introduced by Le Bon as the song that saved the band, that stole the show.
Rio closed the show with a jubilant Le Bon dancing and Duran Duran’s pop royalty status intact.
Courtesy Birmingham Live, Photo: David Jackson